‘You have £13,416 available to spend…’

This month saw the arrival of my second post-Christmas credit card statement. I felt rather pleased with myself opening it, because I knew that even though I accidentally spent about £1,500 on it on Christmas presents, I paid off the balance almost completely in the first week of January.

*looks smug*

So self-satisfied was I in fact, that I almost wanted to punch myself in the face.

My eye was caught though by the line telling me I had ‘£13,416 available to spend’.

Hmm…

£13,416 is quite a lot of money…

I felt my brain start to twitch at the prospect and hastily pushed it under a pile of Nursery Industry magazines.

Although I’m nearly 33, I’m still haunted by those years of student debt. I was a single parent to a toddler through most of my degree, doing a round trip every day of over 100 miles to lectures, and that, together with all the money I spent on sachets of Pasta ‘n’ Sauce, left me in rather a tricky position financially.

Three years spent juggling credit cards, overdrafts and overdue bills, buying electricity on a stick and shopping in supermarkets full of frozen burgers and children being hit (we all know which one I’m talking about), doesn’t do a lot for your credit rating or your morale, and although I’ve made amends since, I still get pangs of guilt whenever I apply for a credit card. It’s a bit like when you see a police car and have to resist the urge to speed off – you know you haven’t done anything wrong, but you still feel suddenly shifty.

Now I’m a Respectable Grown Up though, banks seem terribly keen to lend me cash and barely a week goes by when I’m not offered some kind of loan or credit. Apparently there is money all over the place with my name on it, just sitting there, waiting for me to spend it on something I don’t really need.

£13,416 available to spend.

I could do a lot with £13,416. I could buy a new car, travel the world, buy 537 litres of Bombay Sapphire… And that’s a lot of gin by anyone’s standards.

I won’t buy 537 litres of gin of course, and give that as an example only to annoy Bee, who constantly mocks me for my gin references. “Seriously mummy, you hardly ever really drink gin…”. I might buy one or two, but I will pay cash. It’s not that I’m against the idea of credit completely – I do have the odd loan, student and otherwise, plus four or five credit cards – but all but one are hidden away, PIN numbers forgotten, lest I become overwhelmed by the temptation to visit Amazon late at night. (It’s a fact that money spent online doesn’t really count anyway).

What I do find comforting though is the idea that should life at any point become too much, should I need for any reason to leave the country and assume a new identity, that I can rely on having £13,416 available to spend…

escape fund

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

17 Comments

  1. 22 February, 2011 / 10:47 am

    Having had to get back from a place where I’d got myself into a debt hole I hate credit cards – why can’t they be called debt cards? Much easier to realise what you’re signing up for and then its not available credit but potential debt which is far scarier

    Ok rant over, moving on…

    • 22 February, 2011 / 6:31 pm

      Rant away, I totally agree! £13,416 available to spend, as though it’s really my money, I’m just choosing to have Mastercard look after it for now…

  2. 22 February, 2011 / 12:15 pm

    We’re still crawling out of debt and will have to remember when it’s all a bit sunnier that not to be tempted back in! By the way, did you actually calculate how many litres the money would buy?

    • 22 February, 2011 / 6:30 pm

      Yes, of course! I looked up the price and 537 is £13,416 divided by £24.99.

      *attention to detail*

  3. 22 February, 2011 / 4:51 pm

    I hate credit cards too, never had one and hopefully never will. Will however be paying off my student loan till I am about 70 years old!!

    Emma x

    • 22 February, 2011 / 6:28 pm

      Student loans don’t count though… I’m actually MAKING money on mine at the moment, as the interest tracks below the BoE base rate… Nice.

  4. 22 February, 2011 / 6:30 pm

    I have been so busy of late, not keeping up with your blog. I am sorry about that, but I popped in today to find that you are still the best blogger EVER!

    You may tell Bee that your loyal fans/stalkers, really like you gin references. I would give you all the credit in the world, both for your writing and your opinion that late night online shopping doesn’t count. I agree with that last bit completely. I think I will head over to Amazon myself and buy some music from my childhood.

    Later,

    Brian

    • 23 February, 2011 / 2:01 pm

      Brian!!

      Yay!!

      I was beginning to think you didn’t like me anymore :-(

      Gald you’ve been busy though – doing lots of exciting things I hope?

  5. 22 February, 2011 / 11:24 pm

    Wow! you make me feel old …I was at college where student loans just came in in the final year – before that is was heaven, life of Riley, a bit of a gravy train. The Student union subsidised the beer in those days. One pound a pint it was! if they’d put the bar in the library I might have had a chance of doing a tad more studying

    • 23 February, 2011 / 2:00 pm

      I’m not that old! I think student loans were pretty new in my year – I have less than £5k altogether – I actually had a grant too!! Nice.

  6. 23 February, 2011 / 1:57 pm

    I bought fancy make up I never wore and Batman artwork with my student loans.

    I have a credit card account but have cut the thing up should I be tempted to spend more on it, I have little to no will power. But they keep putting up my ‘available amount’ too which is scary seeing as I only ever pay the interest. I looked up Martin Lewis’s website the other day and he confirmed I should pay it all off in 14 year and 7 months. Magic.

    Does Brian have a new avatar? You look younger Brian.

    • 23 February, 2011 / 2:04 pm

      £900 of my first year’s student loan went on a sampler for my then boyfriend (Bee’s dad). I’m sure it was the very height of sophisticated technology at the time. He had (still has) a bit of a thing for keyboards and stuff. He may even get as far as recording his first album this year, so I’m led to believe, which I will officially see as a return on my investment in his musical career…

  7. 23 February, 2011 / 3:29 pm

    *ponders what 537 bottles of Bombay Sapphire would look like* Could you build a house from them when you are done? Cheaper than a mortgage, no?

  8. 23 February, 2011 / 3:39 pm

    I actually got rid of my credit cards a while ago. Just TOO tempting. All I have left is a Debenhams card and even with that I think oh it’s not real money. It’s only a pain when I want to book a flight or something.

    But what I could do with £13, 416. I could have probably singlehandedly saved Borders from going under.

    • 23 February, 2011 / 3:56 pm

      Oooh yes, I could have helped with that one! The Borders nearest me had a Paperchase in it too – basically retail heaven for me :-)

  9. mrs worthington
    24 February, 2011 / 8:15 am

    Credit cards are evil. Paid all mine off 2 years ago n just have one for emergencies. So far I have had an emergency substantial car repair bill, holiday to pay for, n curtains. I pay it all off every month though, apart from car. So guess what with that amount of credit I’d buy a new car and then need same credit to afford the petrol.

  10. 24 February, 2011 / 3:56 pm

    Credit cards are all to easy to abuse. I had a splurge on guitars when I was a kid. (18) It took years to pay off But if you are smart, you can use them to your advantage. Especially one that give you points. As long as you pay off the full balance every month it is a way of enhancing you spending power.
    Also for this in debt they can be a lifeline ( believe it or not) the ability to move to a 0% for 18 months can save a LOT of interest. To take full advantage you really need guidance. Martin Lewis’s website moneysavingexpert.com is fab for that.
    But if someone is bad with money I guess you are better of without them. As you said they are temptation of the highest order.

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